A new Google-branded Nexus Two smartphone may be introduced by Samsung. Google's Nexus One, made by HTC, failed and was pulled from the market. Even as carriers flooded the market with Android phones, Google was unable to sell enough Nexus Ones through its online store. This time, a Google phone is likely to have carrier support.
Three months after it ended distribution of the Nexus One, a feature-packed phone that consumers seemed to be allergic to, Google appears ready to try again. The Google-branded smartphone, originally manufactured by HTC, is believed to be the new Android device Samsung will announce at a New York City media event on Nov. 8.
However, some say the event may launch the Continuum, a dual-screen Android device to be offered by Verizon Wireless.
Off on the Wrong Foot
The original Nexus One debuted in February and was sold unlocked by Google directly from its online store. That was a nonstarter as major carriers Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel, and AT&T flooded the market with a slew of new Android devices as well Apple's iPhone and BlackBerry smartphones.
Though some critics liked the design and features -- particularly its lack of apps added by carriers, known derisively as bloatware -- Google was hard-pressed to keep up with tech-support calls. The phone sold for $529 with no contract, or $179 with a two-year commitment to T-Mobile.
"The original Nexus One was dead on arrival because the distribution was limited, the price point was very high, and the device had software issues," said Kirk Parsons, a wireless analyst for J.D. Power and Associates.
In the 74 days it took Apple to sell one million iPhones last year, Google sold only 179,000 Nexus Ones, according to figures from research firm Flurry, even as Android devices sold by the carriers were well-received.
"While the global adoption of the Android platform has exceeded our expectations, the web store has not," Google spokesperson Andy Rubin said in May as Google announced it would sell the Nexus One via retail stores. But in July it discontinued the phone altogether, providing it only to developers for Android research.
A blog that specializes in Android devices, citing "multiple trusted sources," reported Thursday that the Nexus Two will be the first device to ship with the latest Android version, 2.3, code-named Gingerbread. That report from Android and Me was quickly picked up by other media as speculation builds about the Nov. 8 event.
Spokespersons for Google and Samsung didn't respond to e-mails seeking comment in time for publication.
If the Nexus Two does materialize, there is little chance that Google hasn't learned from its mistakes. This time the device would be shipped through an established carrier.
"The only way it will have any chance of success would be through carrier support, selling it at retail stores instead of Google trying to sell it online only themselves," Parsons said.
Another report about the Nexus Two in a British publication, City A.M., said Google has signed an agreement to sell the phone via retailer Carphone Warehouse.